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Statement to the Press

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

September 18, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We thank you for being here this morning.

Priests for Life is the largest Catholic organization in our nation working exclusively to end abortion and euthanasia. By means of speaking engagements in every state and a massive media outreach, we urge our fellow citizens to face the reality of what abortion is: an act of violence that kills a child.

In these weeks before our national elections, we are asking all of those who believe abortion should be legal to answer a simple question. We present the words of the abortionists themselves and then ask, “When you say the word ‘abortion,’ is this what you mean?”

In the last few days, we have respectfully brought that question to our elected representatives in the US House and Senate. We have presented them with quotations from abortionists as found in medical textbooks and court testimony. We have given them the medical diagrams of two of the most common abortion procedures.

And we have asked, “When you say the word ‘abortion,” is this what you mean?”

Here are some of those quotes:

First Trimester Suction Abortion

“Question: Can the heart of a fetus or embryo still be beating during a suction curettage abortion as the fetus or embryo comes down the cannula?

Answer: For a few seconds to a minute, yes.”

(Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

(Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Harlan Raymond Giles, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.)

***

“The fetus passes through the catheter and either dies in transit as it’s passing through the catheter or dies in the suction bottle after it’s actually all the way out.”

(Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.)

Second Trimester D&E Abortion

“A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus…" (From the medical textbook Abortion Practice – Dr. Warren Hern, p.154, describing legal activity).

***

“The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix.”

(US Supreme Court, Gonzales vs. Carhart, April 18, 2007, describing the D&E procedure, which is legal).

***

“We would attack the lower part of the lower extremity first, remove, you know, possibly a foot, then the lower leg at the knee and then finally we get to the hip."

(Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.)

***

“Typically the skull is brought out in fragments rather than as a unified piece…"

(Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.)

To have a meaningful debate on any topic, those having the debate must have a common starting point. In the abortion debate, however, the debating sides are rarely talking about the same thing. The purpose of our effort is to establish that common starting point, so that those discussing ‘abortion’ have the same thing in mind when they start the discussion.

This question in and of itself does not even raise the issue of the morality or legality of abortion. It simply asks what supporters of abortion mean by the word. Anyone using the word should be able to answer that question. Moreover, the project is completely non-partisan and applies to people of any party or no party.

To evade the question suggests an unwillingness to face what abortion is, and therefore raises the further question as to why someone would support the legal continuation of a procedure they cannot even bring themselves to describe.

Our staff will follow up with the staffs of those members of Congress with whom we visited in order to receive their answer to this simple question. We will then publicize the answer to their constituents. Meanwhile, we invite constituents to join us in asking their elected representatives this question. People can join their name to this project at our project website (www.priestsforlife.org/isthiswhatyoumean), and we will indicate to the members of Congress the names of those who have joined this campaign.

When the question is asked publicly, the public – as well as the public official being addressed -- is educated regarding what abortion is, and this is the primary benefit of this project. We urge local residents, therefore, to ask this question at town hall meetings with candidates and any other public official who supports the legality of abortion.

After the elections, the “Is this what you mean?” campaign will continue in the same fashion, and can be applied to people in any profession who support the legality of abortion. It can be used as an effective tool in private conversation as well.

Once again, then, to politicians and others who support the legality of abortion, this campaign says:

If you’re going to take a position on abortion, then you’re going to have to come clean about what it is. We are no longer going to let you obscure or trivialize the issue. Whether people agree with you or not, you owe it to them to be honest about what you’re talking about.

• Therefore we issue this simple call to honesty: We will describe abortion to you, and you tell us if that’s what you’re talking about.

That’s it, pure and simple. This is not a debate, nor a threat. It’s a call to clarity, a demand for honesty. That is not partisan, nor is it unreasonable; it is not fanatical or inappropriate in any way. Nor is this about religion or morality. We just want to make sure that we’re hearing you. When you say “abortion,” we just want to make sure we’re both talking about the same thing.

Then we can put our national debate on a more productive foundation.

Thank you.

Click here for a press release about the news conference

Click here to read the statement from former abortionist, Dr. Anthony Levatino

Click here to read the statement in Spanish given by Fr. Victor Salomón


Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 888-735-3448, 321-500-1000 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org